“So what do you do for a living?” is a common enough question when engaging in small talk with somebody you’ve just met. But for a select few of the world’s workers this signifies the beginning of the end of any conversation, followed by awkward excuses and another evening spent stood alone in the corner at a party.
Here is our guide to the top ten odd jobs from around the world, so if you’re sitting in your office bored out of your mind just be thankful you’re not doing one of these.
Ah we Brits love to queue. And let’s face it, spending entire lunchtimes queuing at the bank, post office, supermarket or coffee shop is a dream way to spend part of your working day. However, some people – believe it or not – don’t enjoy queuing for hours on end. That’s where professional queuers come in. Selling their services, they will wait in line for you, be it for Wimbledon tickets, the latest Halo game or, of course, anything Apple releases, such as the latest iPad, iPhone or iThingymajig.
This could be most people’s idea of a dream job. Big chocolate companies from Thorntons to Cadburys have teams of food technicians and tasters whose job is to make their chocolate taste divine. It may not be particularly kind to your waistline, but your tastebuds are going to thank you.
In 2009, a rather strange job came up… as a zombie. The London Bridge Experience had record numbers of applicants for the £30,000-a-year job pretending to be the undead… Something many office workers could replicate for free before their morning coffee. And this isn’t the only zombie job that’s come up. Brit zombie flick 28 Days Later got students involved as zombie extras for the film – although they were only paid in coffee and biscuits.
If you’re an adrenalin junkie with a degree in biology then handling some of the world’s deadliest snakes every day may appeal. Snake milkers extract the venom of snakes to be used in medicines and anti-venom, in a job where one slip of the finger could land them in casualty – or worse. Hardcore.
Similar to the chocolate tasters, if beer is more your thing then breweries hire tasters and technologists to ensure the quality of their brew is up to par. If you love nothing more than a pint down the pub, have a science degree and consider yourself to have an adept palate – and no, being able to down five Stellas in a row doesn’t count – then a career as a beer taster may appeal.
Last year, a student from Birmingham City University landed probably every student’s dream job… as a luxury bed tester. Sleeping on the job, having long lie-ins and relaxing was all part of the role. She earned £1,000 in the month she was asked to test luxury beds for the Savoy Hotel, blogging about her experience.
In 2004, English Heritage revived the position of state jester after Oliver Cromwell abolished the post over 350 years ago. Providing fun and frivolity for the public, the new state jester had the advantage over his predecessors as he most definitely wouldn’t be facing the executioner’s block if he offended anybody.
Ever wondered why Felix looks so happy in the cat food ads? These guys know. Many pet food producers and supermarket chains hire pet food tasters to ensure the quality of what they produce for the nation’s much-loved pets. M&S’ senior food technologist tastes every item of pet food before it hits the supermarket’s shelves and says he loves his job. Woof!
Officially the most boring task of all, paint manufacturer Aquatic Coatings pays someone to watch how long it takes their paint to dry. The company makes paint for the London Underground where staff have just a couple of hours to paint walls and floors before the stations open. You have them to thank for not getting paint all over your favourite suit, then.
You’d have to have been living in a shoe to have missed the publicity surrounding ‘officially the best job in the world’ in 2009 working for the Queensland Tourism Board. A Brit won the job, earning £73,400 to live on an island in the Great Barrier Reef for six months, swimming, exploring and generally enjoying himself whilst filming and blogging about all the fun he was having. And if you think that beating 18 applicants for every job was tough, try 35,000 other applicants across the world. Really.